Bright and early the next morning, after about 4 hours of sleep for each of us, we dragged our arses out of bed and got ready for a day of cramming in a few more sights before heading home.
Our first stop was the sculpture garden downtown. There was an intense storm earlier that morning (like, 3 or 4AM), and the sky was still cloudy and the temperatures were cool. This alone made it worth it to wake up so early.
This was my favorite sculpture. I liked that it was open for people to walk inside of it.
Salt n' Pepa shakers.
From here, we just roamed around Des Moines, which was very quiet. The Des Moines Public Library was closed, and the capitol building was closed to the public, but we could roam around the gardens outside. I don't have many pictures from that because it was so bright outside. Eventually, we ready for lunch, and we hit up another Thai restaurant. (The one restaurant that is marketed as having vegetarian, vegan, and raw options was closed the entire time we were in the area. This meant lots of Asian food instead!)
We went to King & I Thai & Sushi. We started with fried spring rolls.
I ordered the Rama Gardens, which is similar to Panang in that it involves peanut sauce. I loved the assortment of veggies in this dish, especially that oh-so-tender spinach.
Those veggies won me over and makes me say that this dish was better than the Panang at Thai Flavors. The only negative to this meal is that rice costs extra: $1.50 for jasmine white; $2.50 for basmati brown.
Still, those veggies... there was tofu, spinach, cabbage, string beans, baby corn, peppers? I can't even remember. It was all delicious, though.
After stuffing ourselves silly, we waddled back to the car and digested our way to Ames, about 40 minutes away. We went to Reiman Gardens on the Iowa State University campus. It was blazing hot by then, so we didn't make it through the entire garden area, but we did see three lovely things.
1. Butterfly House (watch where you step!)
2. The Conservatory, which displayed several bottle trees.
I really want to make a bottle tree now. Who wants to help me drink some wine?!
3. THE WORLD'S LARGEST CONCRETE GARDEN GNOME
Having had enough sun and sweat for the day, we left shortly after visiting the giant gnome. On the way home, we stopped to see a covered bridge in Madison County; one was enough for us. I was surprised at how much of a crowd it drew for a Sunday afternoon.
And that's our trip to Iowa in a blog-sized nutshell. It would have helped to have some local friends in the area to show us the good places we missed, but going completely off of the internet and one big brochure at the welcome center, I think we planned a decent 24-hour Iowa blitz.